Anne Schwanewilms / ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder; Tannhauser; Tristan und Isolde

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Anne Schwanewilms is one of Germany's leading Wagnerian sopranos, and this 2014 Capriccio album showcases her lyrical voice in three well-known works: Elisabeth's aria, "Dich, teure Halle" from Tannhäuser, the five Wesendonck Lieder, and the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. These are key examples of Wagner's vocal writing, emphasizing the long, through-composed line and the soaring lyricism of his most memorable music. Schwanewilms' light, evenly supported tone, controlled phrasing, and clear diction combine in wonderfully expressive singing that compels listening, even though she doesn't possess a loud or especially commanding voice. One may wish for a little more volume or power, but these pieces really don't require a dramatic soprano voice to be effective. The Overture and Bacchanal from Tannhäuser and the Prelude from Tristan und Isolde are played by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Cornelius Meister, and they are appropriate choices, though to make this a proper vehicle for Schwanewilms' talents, those familiar pieces should have been replaced with either more Wagnerian arias or selections from her performances in the operas of Richard Strauss. However, Wagner lovers will be just as happy to have this album as it is, without any substitutions.

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